Don’t miss the 6 July 2021 deadline to file your annual share plan returns

April 28, 2021


An annual return needs to be submitted by all companies who have an active employee share plan registered with HMRC. This includes tax-advantaged share plans such as EMI, CSOP, SAYE and SIP as well as any non-tax advantaged plans or arrangements such as unapproved options, conditional share awards (or restricted stock units), growth share plans etc. A separate return is needed for each share plan registered with HMRC.

For the tax year 2020/21, the deadline for submission of the share plan returns is 6 July 2021.

HMRC will not send any reminders. Late filing will result in penalties.

The return must cover all ‘reportable events’ that have taken place in the last tax year (6th April to 5th April) in relation to each employee share plan. ‘Reportable events’ include, the grant, exercise, cancellation, lapse or release of options; the grant, vesting, assignment or release of other share awards like conditional share awards or restricted stock units; the grant of SIP awards and SIP shares ceasing to be subject to the SIP; post-acquisition chargeable events in relation to restricted securities; post-acquisition benefits received in relation to convertible securities; other post-acquisition benefits received in relation to employment related securities; discharges of notional loans; artificial enhancements of market value of employment related securities; employment related securities sold for more than market value.

If no ‘reportable event’ has occurred in the last year, a ‘nil return’ is still required to be filed.

For CSOPs and SAYE option plans, if there has been an amendment of a key feature or adjustments have been made to options following a variation of share capital during the tax year, the annual return must be accompanied by a declaration confirming that the amendment (and/or the adjustment to the options) has not caused the plan to cease to meet the requirements of the relevant legislation. Similarly, for SIPs, an amendment to a key feature of the SIP (or the SIP trust) must be accompanied by a declaration confirming that the adjustments have not caused the SIP to cease to meet the requirements of the SIP legislation.

If there are no existing options/awards in issue and no further options/awards are likely to be granted under the plan in the future, a company should consider closing the plan down on-line as this would reduce the administrative burden and avoid financial penalties for non-compliance.

The returns will need to be filed by using the plan’s unique reference number. HMRC has provided templates for uploading data for CSOP, SIP and SAYE option scheme annual returns which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/employment-related-securities.

HMRC has published guidance on completing the online return templates for non-tax-advantaged arrangements at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/other-employment-related-securities-schemes-and-arrangements-end-of-year-return-template.

Finally, prior to submission, files should be checked for formatting errors through https://www.gov.uk/employment-related-securities-files.

The submission of annual returns can either be carried out by the company directly or by an agent appointed by the company to act on its behalf.

For further information contact Stuart James or JD Ghosh.

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